Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Orson Scott Card - Terrorist?

Orson Scott Card has a history of writing pretty hateful things - here is the latest example, where he literaly calls for an overthrow of the government of the US if gay marriage is legalized (does this make him a terrorist?).

This blog post at SF Diplomat points out the long history of Card's hateful speak, and points to the Feminist SF Blog reaction (I highly recommend reading this). There are plenty of other reactions around and I just don't have the time to search them all out.

Anyway, this is just another example of why I choose not to support OSC in anyway I know of. It makes you wonder what other SFF authors out there think this way - particularly those among the Mormon faith.


Chris, The Book Swede said...

I don't think it does make him a terrorist. Calling for the overthrowing of the Government is free speech, something that, no matter how plainly bigoted and stupid his views, should always be upheld -- even if we disagree with him vehemently.

Attempts being made to overthrow -- now that IS terrorism.

I've just read that article -- poorly argued, and sickening :(

"Biological imperatives trump laws." I won't even comment on how stupid that is... "The American government cannot fight against marriage and hope to endure. If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die."

Insane constitution?! It's one of the things from the US that I actually want to see imported over into the UK. It establishes -- ultimately -- the right to free speech, to say what you want, but not to enforce on others, and the separation of Church from state. It's wonderful :)

We in the UK, don't have those rights. We have some traditions, but we don't have those rights. Blasphemy laws, religious hatred laws (e.g. prohibiting the making of a joke about any religion, criticising any religion, etc), the right of government to restrict free speech when it's deemed offensive. Our Internet connections -- as of Monday two weeks ago -- in a sneaky bit of EU legislation hidden inside a boring Telecom Bill, are now monitored by the ISP, and can be cut off by them at the behest of any country in the EU...

I talk too much...

I don't think it's just the Mormon faith, though. While some of the most vocal in that opinion (sorry, revealed Truth), all the major religions have texts, and preachers, that say the same bigoted things, under their cloak of "morality".

Just my two pence ;)

waterfowl said...

I don't feel the need to be quite as articulate or lengthy as Chris. (Great post, btw.)It does not make him a terrorist--it does make him an asshole. I've never purchased one of his books because of previous statements of this sort, and now he's assured that I never will.

He and Larry Craig both seem to hate teh gheys. Maybe they should hook up. (poor choice of words?)

Neth said...

I agree, calling him a terrorist at this point is an exaggeration, however, I wonder what would happen if a prominent Muslim in the US said something about this? As Chris hints at, under the laws of the UK, you could be arrested for saying something like this (I believe that several Imams have).

waterfowl said...

They passed a law a year or so ago in Britain making any sort of 'terrorist' speech illegal. I believe it has been applied somewhat selectively. A collection of short SF fiction came out shortly thereafter that dealt with the subject by featuring stories that advocated some sort of terrorism against central authority. Steve Eely discussed in Escape Pod and featured one of the stories. (I can't remember the name of the anthology or story.)

Where a prominent Muslim in this country to make a similar statement to OSC's, re: the end of the country, etc. they'd be drowned out by calls of terrorist, now that you mention it. I guess all religious nuts are not created equal in the eyes of the public.

I think the way SF Diplomat recommends dealing with OSC in the post you linked to is a great idea, boycotting him only gets him press, whereas confronting the issue at Cons and such would be a good way for the SF community to address the issue. I don't know of too many authors who would be likely to share his view, although I think John C. Wright would probably be happy to side with him.

Wasn't it OSC who was involved in a think-tank of authors who suggested mining or electrifying the border with Mexico or some such last year?


waterfowl said...

Oops. That should be 'were' not 'where' :)

Neth said...

Wasn't it OSC who was involved in a think-tank of authors who suggested mining or electrifying the border with Mexico or some such last year?

I thought this was Larry Niven - it's a Homeland Security think group that has several writers on it. Larry Niven and David J. Williams are two SFF writers I believe who are apart of it - there maybe more, but I don't think OSC is one.

waterfowl said...

A quick google took care of that. I stand corrected. Niven supposedly advocated spreading rumors that hospitals were killing illegals and selling organs on the black market, etc... to keep them from hospitals.

RedEyedGhost said...

It's comments like this from OSC that have lead me to stop purchasing/reading anything that he produces. (The synopsis of Empire was blood curdling enough, I can't imagine even trying to read the book.)

@waterfowl: Any links to what you're implying about John C. Wright? I really enjoyed his first two series... but if his views are in line with Card's I my have to refrain from getting his new book.

waterfowl said...


This link goes to a mind meld on SF Signal in which he takes someone to task a bit in the comments. Comes across as a little right wing and heavy handed in his support of Orson Scott Card.

To be honest, this was all I could find. I'm mainly speaking from memory here. He has appeared in previous comment threads I have read--I want to say on Jim C. Hines' blog, and maybe stuff linked to off of Jay Lake's Livejournal. He strikes me as pretty far to the right from comments i have read. I could be totally off base, though. I didn't mean to imply that he was jingoistic or homophobic in the same fashion as OSC, but rather that he falls a little closer to the far right side of the political spectrum than most other authors in the SFF field.

To be honest, I've never heard someone say that didn't like his books, though.

waterfowl said...

To follow up my own post.... I googled John C. Wright's live journal for a bit more info.

I think he comes across as well read and articulate from the few posts I just went and skimmed. His politics would seem to be far to the right of mine, and he is a convert to Catholicism. He is nowhere near the vitriolic hate speech being thrown about by Card. Still, I'm not sure I'd want to have beer with either one.

RedEyedGhost said...


I saw that first link from one of the pages Ken linked, and I wish he would have followed up after JM bitch slapped him pretty hard.

I'll have to peruse his live journal for hateful or bigoted posts.

Hopefully I won't find anything, because I really enjoyed his first two series (the third series... not so much). He was qucik to defend OSC's hypocritical post on sfsignal though.

Dammit Waterfowl, you ruined my night! j/k

Peta said...

To echo waterfowl, what an arsehole. There's no way I'm going to buy his books now and I'm sure I'll survive.

Fábio said...

I´m very, very saddened by all this stuff he´s written lately. My late grandfather, born a Catholic, was converted to the Mormon faith in his last decade of life, and he was a very kind, tolerant man, as well as all the folks of his community I knew. (But then, maybe that´s due to the fact he lived in Brazil, in Rio, not in Salt Lake City - I don´t know if geographical constraints in these cases apply someway. But I don´t feel like buying (or even reading) Card anymore, not for a long time.

Neth said...

about John C. Wright - I've met him in person briefly, and he was a very gracious person. I've not read any of his books, but I occaisionally skim his LJ. Let's just say his political beliefs are certainly a bit right of my own, but I haven't seen anything that approaches the crazy-talk of OSC.

While I won't be supporting OSC, Wright hasn't done anything for me to take that step.

RedEyedGhost said...

Thanks Ken! That's very good to hear.

Carl V. said...

Although I certainly can't support all that Card has to say I certainly don't find his entire article to be off base in some of its assertions. Those on the other side of OSC's fence have certainly made similar vocalizations of concern over the way various governmental agencies, and often individuals employed in governmental roles, seem to make and enact laws that set up far reaching consequences that may end up being devastating. For example, any laws made to prevent parents from home-schooling their children, or making it more difficult to do so, certainly raise my fears as steps like this get us ever closer to more and more governmental controls. I don't enjoy seeing the government legislate morality on either side of an issue simply because it often sets the stage for those laws to be stretched well beyond their intentions. As a religious person I cringe just as much when someone talks about infringing on the freedoms of speech of people who believe completely opposite of me as I do when I read/hear people talking about silencing the 'religious right'. I cherish my freedom to speak what I want, read what I want, etc. as much as I cherish the right of those I don't agree with to do the same. While people like Card certainly don't represent me or the majority of people I associate with I see his responses, etc. as the natural order...they represent one side of the scales that at least try to balance out those on the other side of political/religious leanings that are every bit as hateful, unreasonable, and dangerous.

On a slightly different note, I do my best not to get too caught up in what my favorite authors, film-maker's, etc. believe or support, etc. I don't look to Card to inform or support my political or religious views any more than I do the celebrities who seem to go out of their way to do so during elections. I'd prefer they all keep their opinions to themselves as the measure of importance so many people put on their words/opinions sickens me, but in the end I support their rights to speak up and get involved the same as mine. I am not going to let it, when at all possible, disrupt my enjoyment of the entertainment they give me.

I just read Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead for the first time less than a year ago. I have no qualms in saying they are two of the very best science fiction works I have ever read. Both books managed to have me strongly attached to their characters and I had a very strong emotional reaction to both stories. I obviously haven't read any of Card's more recent works and have no idea of how they may or may not be informed by his beliefs, but in the end I am looking for a good story. I think it could be somewhat short sided to dismiss the opportunity of a good read simply because he speaks out and says these kind of things. The reason I say this is simply because I don't know what secrets any of my favorite authors might hold. They could beat their wives or children, or worse, be sexually abusive to them. They could be alcoholics driving drunk and endangering the lives of other 'innocent' people on the road. They could be aggressively against any of the beliefs that I hold dear. They could believe, espouse, support, etc. anything! Maybe I'm putting my head in the sand, but I would rather not know.

But, to play devil's advocate to my own argument, though I call it 'short-sighted' I am no doubt guilty of making the same judgments about authors myself. So I cannot judge or condemn someone for not wanting to read Card. I personally don't like what Philip Pullman has to say about Tolkien and Lewis. That alone makes me reluctant to read his books (although I did read a book called Clockwork a few years ago and really enjoyed it). JK Rowling has said some really dumb things over the years which have put me off reading any of the Harry Potter books.

And so I am a hypocrite, but one who is at least willing to acknowledge that by choosing to dismiss author's works simply because I don't like what they have to say certainly means that I have the potential of missing out on some really great books.

Neth said...


On one hand I admire it when an author or other 'famous' person uses their fame to try and bring attention to a 'cause' or other belief. I have no problem with them using their position for such a soapbox.

Of course, they are choosing to take a huge risk when they do so. People who disagree may react negatively and even approach levels of a personal boycott or such. Of course they could also gain fans from like-minded people.

Usually, I let this affect me, but sometimes, when beliefs/actions are loud enough and contrary enough to my own, I do reach the point. OSC is one of the few that has managed such with me.

Patrick Gorman Pettis said...

i think that people misconceive the term, terrorism isnt simply an act its an idea, this man promotes an act inspired by hatred even though by governmental standards it would be illegal this by definition, an advocate for overthrowing a government because one disagrees with a single point or declaring their own government a mortal enemy is an act of terrorism, he has pull in his career by the use of his words, he is able to reach many people with his message how then is this not already a form of terrorism, sure not with bombs and guns and bullets but its message can have the same effect cant it? Im an artist, ive seen how much a few seconds look at a single image can inspire even change a life, words can very much do the same. His words are inspired by hate and mean to inspire damage that is terrorism to me


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